Both my parents endured extreme poverty during their respective childhoods in the Caribbean. I grew up with all these harrowing tales of hardship and survival being told at the dinner table. When the skewed ocular of peer pressure made me hyper-aware of my thrift store tennis shoes, I would stave off my cravings for designer kicks with the tales of my father's childhood feet covered in what could barely pass for acceptable footwear. When I would question why I was abiding the endless rigor of Honors and Advanced Placement courses in high school, I would recall that my mother was denied resources for continuing her education because of her gender.

My paternal grandfather died when my father was still a boy, as the oldest child, he had to end his academic education before reaching high school to work and help support his family. My maternal grandparents had a small sustenance farm in Haiti and my mother learned the meaning of hunger and drudgery very young. Though still quite modest by most standards, through relentless hard work and their personal faith, my parents were able to create a childhood much better than their own for my siblings and I.

Growing up, I knew we didn't have much and though poor by American standards, it did not compare to the poverty experienced by our extended family in Haiti.  Regularly my mother would save to send money for food and medicine for impoverished relatives and even allocate resources to attend mission trips with her church.

I grew up understanding that no matter how modest your means, there are those in far more dire circumstances and there is always room to give back. By doing so, you create a chain of giving and gratitude. So, a few years back,  I made time to volunteer in rural China, fighting to eradicate extreme poverty and inequality by helping students facing so many disparities have a better chance at higher education. In undergrad, I worked with multiple student organization to be a driver of change on and off campus. Now, I volunteer with an organization (Created) that rescues women from sex-trafficking and similar trades in Florida. A few years ago, an anonymous donor gave the group an old motel as a gift. Through fundraising and other donations, the building was turned into a residential rehabilitative facility that has been the first stop for many women starting new lives after years of suffering and abuse.

I have a demanding career, two small children, I run two blogs, and I have long list of other items that require my ongoing attention. But, because of the example set by my parents, I never hesitate to give time and/or money to empowering women, eradicating extreme poverty and volunteering my professional expertise to helping non-profits that do amazing work. 

Western union believes that when money moves, better things happen. A business expands. A family connects. A child goes to college. Emergency aid arrives the moment it’s needed. An economy prospers, an opportunity opens, a community heals. This was our truth, my mother moved to America before my father. In the very beginning, we lived in this tiny two bedroom apartment with another family of four and we survived on my mother's modest income as a janitor and food worker, but the regular dollars sent via Western Union from my father in the Caribbean made all the difference in the world.

So when the opportunity presented itself to participate in their Chain of Betters project, I jumped at it. It’s an idea that empowers people with the opportunity to change the lives of others. As the money moves around the world, creating a chain of good deeds, together we can start to change lives in ways we wouldn’t have imagined was possible. This isn’t just saying money moves for better. This is proving it, together.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.